Pearson Foundation releases new research on digital literacy among young children

Latest study explores 21st century learning in developing and least-developed nations

Washington, DC, March 1, 2010 — At the annual Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) International Symposium, the Pearson Foundation released today “The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy,” a research white paper on the effects of digital media on young children’s learning.

Authored by early childhood education experts, Arizona State University’s Jay Blanchard and Terry Moore, the white paper examines the latest research on how young children learn using increasingly personalized and mobile media, including cell phones, television, video games, smart devices, and computers. The report focuses on the impact of these new ways of learning and highlights the degree to which these emergent literacies are rooted in young people’s use of common-place mobile devices - especially in developing and least-developed nations.

Blanchard’s and Moore’s research finds that developmental milestones are changing as a new generation of young children approach learning and literacy in ways not thought possible in the past. According to this new report, digital media is already transforming the language and cultural practices that enable early literacy development, making possible a new kind of personal and global interconnectedness.

“Opportunities to develop emergent literacy skills - listening, speaking, reading, and writing - surround young children across the globe. From the one-rupee video game rooms in the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India, to the cybercafés of Condega in the mountains of rural Nicaragua, to the Save the Children/CESVI Internet connections in the Ecole Medina Gounass shantytown of Dakar, Senegal, to the ever-present cell phones in the villa miserias of Buenos Aires or favelas of Rio de Janiero, digital media is shaping a new, emergent literacy in the lives of millions of young children,” Blanchard said.

Of the research, Pearson Foundation president Mark Nieker said, “We know that digital media is changing the learning and literacy of children worldwide, but we’re just coming to understand this impact and how to best use contemporary media to personalize learning and develop essential literacy skills. ‘The Digital World of Young Children’ creates a building block for all future research on emergent literacy and digital media.”

“This research report is an important next step in a still nascent area of study,” added Kathy Hurley, Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and current Chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. “‘The Digital World of Young Children’ helps document the degree to which–all over the world–young people have made the leap to a fully digital way of learning. It’s essential that we understand the dynamics of this change and the potential it holds for young people, as quickly and as fully as we can.”

An executive summary of “The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy” can be found at; the full report is accessible at

About Pearson Foundation

The Pearson Foundation extends Pearson’s (NYSE: PSO) commitment to education by partnering with leading nonprofit, civic, and business organizations to provide financial, organizational, and publishing assistance across the globe. The Foundation aims to make a difference by sponsoring innovative educational programs and extending its educational expertise to help in classrooms and in local communities. More information on the Pearson Foundation can be found at

About Jay Blanchard

Beginning in 1978, Jay Blanchard, who holds a doctorate in reading education, has chronicled the development of technology in reading education. He is the author of numerous books, chapters, articles and presentations on the subject including the three volume set, Computers Applications in Reading (International Reading Association, IRA). He has been Chair of the International Reading Association (IRA) Technology Committee and is an IRA Board Member elect. He has been the editor of three special issues of Computers in the Schools (Haworth Press) on reading. Recently, he edited a special issue on digital media and emergent literacy (2009; Volume 26, Number 4). In addition to writing about emergent literacy, he is in classrooms working on its development with children and teachers through a series of U.S. Department of Education, Early Reading First (ERF) grants, focused on building the emergent literacy skills needed for reading success in kindergarten and first grade. These grants have enabled him to apply what he has been writing about to the real-world challenges of learning to read in today’s young children, their families and teachers.

About Terry Moore

Terry Moore is a graduate student at Arizona State University in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Stacy Skelly